More holiday to use and Paul W6PNG/M0SNA is still in the country, time for another joint outing. The WX forecast was a basically dry and possible sunny day after a spell of unsettled WX. Although the forecast for Ben Lawers 1214m was suggest below freezing temperatures in the colder WX and strong wind. I mailed Paul to ensure he had sufficient layers, hats and gloves with him as it was possibly going to be 15-20C colder than our last joint outing, in case he needed some of mine.
Paul turned up nice and early so we were away on time. What was unexpected was the rain. There was rain predicted in the night but it should be dry. Rainfall radar suggested the WX would be OK where we were going with the forecast suggesting maybe the odd light shower. OK for an attemp as Paul was a little concerned he’d get a text saying it was an abort as he drove up. Off we set in my car and arrived at our parking spot at the end of Lochan na Larige about 0925. This is my preferred parking spot for hills around here as the 5-6 spaces up at the big cairn are always full… normally one badly parked motorhome and 2 cars and that’s it full. However, there was a car already parked and I mentioned to Paul someone in my parking area is highly unusual. As it happened we had stumbled on a meeting of The British Pteridological Society (Fern fanciers!) The area around Ben Lawers is high enough to have an Alpine climate and the soil and minerals leads to it having a number of unique species of ferns and flowers. Anyway instead of just us, car after car arrived, the area being quite full when we left.
What was obvious was how damn cold it was. Both of us added on layers in double quick time. After that we off to the big cairn where the path proper starts. I did these two 15 years ago when I was substantially fatter and less fit but obviously 15 years younger. I didn’t find them particularly challenging then, I wasn’t sure how they would be now. What I remembered was the path to Meall Corranaich had a gloopy boggy section and the final pull was a bit steep but nothing horrific. Well it was boggy very quickly. I remembered walking by the old metal fence posts at the boggiest bit last time. Paul commented as we meandered following the path that he hadn’t heard my GPS beep for a while. It seems the path has moved some way away from the fence posts at the worst part of the bogs to find better ground. When it next beeped and I looked back I could see another path meeting where we were standing and some fence posts. After that it climbs more steeply then really quite steep and then you are at the top. Just like that.
It was blowing hard and we could see rain showers passing North of us over the next summit but we were OK once we had more layers on. We discussed 1 or 2 stations, single band or long multi band activation and decided on 1 station, single band and we would do a longer second activation when the WX would be better. As it was, carefully selected the operating position, we were out of the wind and I think I used the same fencepost to support the pole as 15 years back.
40m SSB and CW was order of the day but the band wasn’t brilliant. Paul shared the mike to get 4 and qualify and I worked 15 on SSB and 8 on CW with 3 S2S contacts. G,ON, F, DL, EA2 & HB9. Paul tried 2m FM with a J-pole on his pole but was unable to get a contact even after spotting himself, not that unusual for 2m FM in GM at times. After a quick pack up and photos before setting off for the next summit. Paul was concerned it was some real distance away but I said no, about an hour will be enough to get there and pointed out which of the 23 billion summits we could see was our next target. 23 billion? Yes, it was clear unlike my last visit and there are just so many hills around here. Paul was suffering from mountain vista overload already!
Local Mr. Big… Ben Lawers GM/CS-001, 1214m and one of GM’s biggest summits.
Beinn Ghlass, not a SOTA. A shame because it is 1103m and you pass over it on the way to Ben Lawers.
Looking North along the might Lawers ridge gets you to An Stuc with Meall Garbh GM/CS-004 behind it. The North face of An Stuc is nearly a scramble… the advice is go up that side not down. Or use the bypass path.
Schiehallion GM/CS-005 in the far distance is recognisable from any angle, this is a classic view of it behind Carn Mairg GM /CS-016.
South we have Beinn Vorlich GM/SS-008, Stuc a’Chroin GM/SS/010 and Beinn Each GM/SS-034. I’ve now activated all 3.
Paul W6PNG/M0SNA well wrapped up in the strong and cold wind looking South and trying to maintain some calmness with the great views.
MM0FMF doing his best George Clooney impression. Yes August 4th and we need layers of fleece and warm hats and gloves. Cold even for a Scottish summer.
Loch Tay and Killin at the west end of the loch.
Ben Challum (Malcolm’s mountain) GM/CS-021. Still one of the boggiest mountains I’ve climbed.
Finally summit cairn Meall Corranaich GM/CS-010. The ridge path to Meall a’Choire Leith GM/CS-041 is visible. Meal a’Choire Leith is the round green summit behind the grey bolder field in the distance.
We set off along the ridge. I pointed out the easy trap of following the path and that it will lead off the summit but away from Meall a’Choire Leith. If you don’t have a GPS, map, compass and sufficient clue to be able to navigate then you will end up with an extra 200m of ascent on top of the normal 180m of ascent to the next summit! We demonstrated how easy it was to do that by getting sucked into the wrong path until I did a bit of checking to make sure we were correct. We were 300m of course but we contoured round so we didn’t descend to the obvious recovery path and climb up!
Ben Lawers GM/CS-001 from the path to Meall a’Choire Leith. Yes, it is a big mountain!
Paul W6PNG/M0SNA looks across the glen taking photos of the quite brilliant countryside.
Looking back up to where we have been, Ben Lawers GM/CS-001, Bheinn Ghlas, Meal Corranaich GM/CS-010
An Stuc, Ben Lawers GM/CS-001, Bheinn Ghlas
Meall Garbh GM/CS-004, An Stuc, Ben Lawers GM/CS-001
One of the Glen Lyon Horseshoe SOTA summits, Carn Mairg GM/CS-016
The other Glen Lyon Horseshoe SOTA summit, Carn Gorm GM/CS-019
Looking to two huge man made reservoirs, the notch in the middle distance on the left is Glen Lyon leading to the Lunbreoch Dam and Glen Lyon. The notch on the right is showing the might Giorra Dam and Lochan Diamh. The knobbly lump between the two notches is Stuchd an Lochain GM/CS-032.
We bimbled along taking photos and the climb up to the next summit was nothing to be honest. Even the ground was dry and easy to walk on. There is a significant trench up to the top and the summit is an enormous flat area. We stayed just below the top to keep out of the wind. The sun came out and Paul was happy to just sit and chill in the warmth and drink in the views. We did 20m SSB and CW, called on 15m but got no takers and then finished on 30m. Paul was happy to share the mic and relax whilst I worked all we could hear. We could have stayed here for hours but… it was a good hour at least back to the car and we had a longish drive to my QTH never mind for Paul another 1hr30 drive. So another pack and more photos and off we went. We had showers North of us on the first hill. This time we had showers South of. But we did get caught in quick shower coming off here. Less than 5 mins of rain and sufficient wind that I was dry 10mins later. Not worth breaking out the Goretex!
Summit Cairn Meall a’Choire Leith GM/CS-041 with Meall nan Tarmachan and the Tarmachan Ridge GM/CS-015 behind.
Giorra Dam and Loch an Diamh with Stuchd an Lochain GM/CS-032 left and Meall Buidhe GM/CS-040 right. The notch in the far distance right of centre is entrance to Glen Coe and thus access to the Western Coast. Buachaille Etive Mor - Stob Dearg GM/WS-044 stands to the left of the entrance.
Meall nan Tarmachan GM/CS-015 from the descent path. You can see the horribly wet path out glistening at the bottom of the photo.
Paul making good progress on the wet and properly steep path down.
Looking at the descent path from Meall a’Choire Leith GM/CS-041, you can see how horrible the flat path is. Squish, squish, squish every step
Lochan na Larige where we parked, is one of the many hydro power sytems here The river flows left to right and left is where Lochan na Larige is. This interceptor catches much water that flows away from the enlarged loch and would escape to River Lyon. There is a tunnel running 1.5km back to the loch from here. There are loads of interceptors and tunnels around here to massive increase the capture area of the systems. 67 years old and the concrete is immaculate still… they built it to last.
Paul gives some scale to the vast nothingness here. You can see how horrible the path is. We had to descend to the river the climb up the other side before dropping down to the road. The ridge in the middle distance leads left to Meall Corranaich GM/CS-010 and right to Meall nam Maigheach GM/CS-082.
Lots of water in the Allt Gleann Da-Eig including this nice waterfall. Meall Corranaich GM/CS010 summit top left.
Looking back to our first summit Meall Corranaich GM/CS-010. WX improving all the time.
This view is never going to get boring. Looking down on Lochan na Larige in the nice WX. Far distance shows Ben Vorlich GM/SS-008 and Stuc a’Chroin GM/SS-010. I could look at this forever.
The Chuckle Brothers stop for photos.
It was only moments from here and we were back at the car. 20mins chilling out and removing boots and we were ready to leave. The WX was now so good I told Paul I’d complete his visual overload and drive him out to Glen Lyon. We may be in time for a cuppa at The Bridge of Balgie Tearoom but it had shut 25mins earlier. Paul’s visual cortex was driven to high overload as we gently drove out via Glen Lyon. I’ve been up that glen many times but even I was stunned with how it looked today. We stopped at Fortingall to take pictures of the Fortingall Yew tree which is the oldest living thing in Europe at allegedly 5000 years old. Then down Strathbraan to the A9 and a gentle chug back home.
The last time I got 14 points in one day in Scotland was when I did these 2 15 years ago. As it was much cooler, I didn’t find them hard work unlike Stuc a’Chorin the other week. . The walk out in continuous soft boggy ground was tedious more than anything. I was not at all tired or achy the next day unlike the last big walk. The bands were rubbish but we still both qualified both hills. With Paul’s company on this activation and the amazing views, I think this maybe the best day’s SOTA I’ve had since starting back in 2006. If not the best, it is in the top 3.
The full circular route of 11.6km walking and 814m ascent.
©Crown copyright 2022 Ordnance Survey. Media 041/22
Back in the mid-50s, this was the loch before the dam was built and before the road was sealed all the way to Glen Lyon. The loch is about 2x wider and 2x longer now.